Radical Resilience

Vegan Summerfest, scheduled for the first week of July at the University of Pittsburgh campus in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is cancelled. Even if Gov. Tom Wolf opens up Cambria County by July, the social distancing rules make a conference for hundreds of people logistically unmanageable.

Previous participant surveys show that numerous Summerfest attendees commit to becoming vegan each year. For many vegan-curious people, the event’s blend of social and educational elements clicks. But the virus does not discriminate based on the intent or benefits of an event.

I’m disoriented by the loss of Vegan Summerfest 2020 and everything it stands for, and yet I have been warning that these disasters would unfold since I was first invited to speak at Summerfest 16 years ago. This is not to be “oh-well” or glib. This is damned upsetting. Here we have the results of one group of apes abusing its privileges on the planet. With this group’s global population as dense and intrusive as it is, a dangerous virus can move through physical bodies and natural settings quickly.

Veganism should be part of the global response. It will help us become respectful members of our greater biological community, because vegan living frees people from having to work in viciously unsafe, unhygienic, and macabre animal processing settings. Veganism is health-affirming. It is comparatively protective of land, air, and bodies of water. It is low-carbon, low-methane, and generally more resource-frugal than other approaches to living.

I’d like to help my fellow human apes make these connections. Supporting whatever might be in us that warrants the term sapiens.

We’re never getting to “normal” again in our lifetimes. Infections change as climates do, so it’s time to expect much more of the unexpected — whether it’s resurgences, mutations, new viruses, or the other stuff that’s coming along with biodiversity breakdown and climate crisis. We ain’t seen nothing yet.

No time like the present to make real, root-level changes. In the months ahead, I’ll be pressing some key points:

• Can quarantine mean a respectful (rather than user-oriented) attitude to nature?
• Can social distancing mean refraining from invading the remaining forests?
• Can we transcend the culture of confinement?
• Can the human apes find ways to stop hoarding the prosperity we get at our environment’s expense — undoing incentives to extract and store?

Remember that “resilience” in the face of crisis means asking deep questions about why our modern crises emerge. And that “affluence” is not a reservoir, but something that flows.

6 thoughts on “Radical Resilience

  1. Sorry to understate it by saying your words are so accurate and poignant Lee.
    Going to miss seeing you and everyone else at Summerfest too.
    Hope there’s enough people out there, including myself, that don’t miss the teaching moment that’s going on here.

  2. So well expressed Lee. And straight to the point- “Veganism should be a part of the global response”. …a huge part of it.
    And yup, no more “normal” in our lifetimes, till we create that new vegan-world norm.

  3. With all of the evidence, facts, science and proof, testing, eating and abusing animals is still the most purposefully ignored subject by the majority of the human animal species. Especially by those of great power that can make all of the difference in the world by speaking out with every news report. Commercials and media TV anchors all put out tons of meat/dairy/fish/fowl and eggs foods, recipes, conversations and even interview the farmers, to keep the public interested in those very “un” foods. Sometimes their faces, when a vegan entree is served to them, they make a distasteful face, making veganism a mockery. Movies, documentaries that show the truth, seem to be watched by those of us who already totally agree and are doing all that we can to make a difference and to spread the word. Thank you for all that you do, Lee, and YES, you are making a huge difference even if it seems to be not going as quickly as we all want it to be. So sorry the Vegan Summerfest is cancelled. It’s a huge disappointment. After this COVID, the awareness is going to be tremendous and the world will see the biggest jump and change for the better. A mass consciousness is developing right this very minute for our future of animal liberation, freedom, environment cleaning and repairing, and veganism.

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